(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)
If you’re in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and want to live in the Parkland View apartment complex, then you’re going to need to undergo a DNA test. No, not your DNA. It’s for your dog.
Local television station WFMZ reports that management at the complex requires all of their residents to subject their pets to an analysis made by PooPrints, a service that sells the tests and performs the testing in Knoxville, Tennessee. This is serious stuff. If a resident at Parkland doesn’t pick up after their dog, the poop can be traceable to their dog and the poo-preprator is held accountable.
PooPrints was launched a few years ago and has been sold through a network of reps to more than 3,000 apartments, condo and homeowner associations in the US, UK and Canada just like Parkland View. The DNA collection kits sell for anywhere between $40 and $60 (which includes the initial lab analysis) and each additional kit for collecting and sending in samples goes for about $15.
At Parkland View, the people abide. That’s because getting caught isn’t pretty. Residents are fined for the first violation and are evicted after their second offense. The draconian rules send a message and create a strong deterrence. “I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve had to submit a sample,” Parkland’s landlord told WFMZ.
Residents get it. “I talk to my co-workers and they say it’s crazy,” a resident – and dog owner – at Parkland also said in the report. “You don’t see poop around anymore. So that’s nice!”
It’s a small price to pay for residential happiness – and like many successful businesses, the idea came as a simple way to solve a very annoying problem that affects many people.
“We literally had a scientist, she was living in a complex, saw poop everywhere and thought, ‘You know, there’s got to be a way we can figure out whose poop this is,’” J Retinger, the CEO of PooPrint’s parent company, BioPet Laboratories, said in a recent interview. “We try education, we try different methods, but sometimes, there has to be an enforcement put in place to just make sure people abide.”
There are significant health benefits, too.
The company says its testing service – which uses 16 genetic markers to identify a match and is so accurate that the probability of another dog having the same genetic profile is often as high as one in 44 sextillion – cuts dog waste by about 75%. And there are other indirect benefits such as preventing the spread of disease and keeping toxins out of water.
In 2017, the company expanded its DNA testing solutions with the release of a product that will allow all pet owners to register the DNA of their pets so as to identify them to participating restaurants, hotels and public facilities, a method of tracking which the company says will encourage more public places to become pet-friendly.
With almost 25,000 pieces of poop analyzed in 2018 alone and revenues exceeding $7m the business is certainly doing well. But Retinger admits that even with this success, not everyone is happy. “Our mailman hates us,” he said in a recent interview with the News Tribune. “It’s just buckets and buckets of [poop], and it drives him nuts.”